Docking, cropping and other acts of barbarism
According to the American Kennel Club’s breed standards, a Doberman pinscher should have a docked tail and “cropped and erect” ears — an appearance (above right) of “alertness,” albeit one achieved through surgery, rubber bands, tape and splints.
The altered appearance of the Doberman is one we’ve seen so often that we’ve come to accept it as normal, even though an unalderated Doberman (above left) has floppy ears and a whip-like tail.
Why do we do it — not just to the Doberman, but about 50 other breeds that are still commonly docked and cropped?
Mainly because of the aforementioned standards, based on traditions — barbaric, silly traditions, but traditions all the same.
Docking Dobermans goes all the way back to the man who created them, Louis Dobermann, who mixed a handful of breeds in hopes of coming up with a medium-sized guard dog. Being guards, they needed to look alert. Hence, the tail docking and ear cropping.
With breed standards under fire — primarily those that have led to inbreeding and genetic health defects among some breeds — the practice of docking tails and cropping ears should be re-examined, too
The American Veterinary Medical Association, which had long recommended against docking and cropping for cosmetic purposes, came down harder on the practice in a new policy adopted last year, calling for them both to removed from breed standards.
The AKC, in response to the AVMA policy change, said that “mislabeling these procedures as ‘cosmetic’ is a severe mischaracterization that connotes a lack of respect and knowledge of history and the function of purebred dogs … These breed characteristics are procedures performed to insure the safety of dogs that on a daily basis perform heroic roles with Homeland Security, serve in the U.S. Military and at Police Departments protecting tens of thousands of communities throughout our nation as well as competing in the field.”
That high and mighty stance came close to painting those who might oppose docking and cropping as unpatriotic. I’m pretty sure letting dogs keep their tails is not going to compromise national security, or lead to more crime.
AKC policy remains the same: “… ear cropping, tail docking, and dewclaw removal, as described in certain breed standards, are acceptable practices integral to defining and preserving breed character and/or enhancing good health.”
The AVMA says it received approximately 250 letters after the policy change –a substantial portion of which were supportive.
The AVMA is by no means the only organization opposed to performing these procedures. Virtually all animal welfare groups are against them, and cosmetic ear cropping and tail docking of dogs is banned in Australia and much of Europe. Both the American Animal Hospital Association and Canadian VMA have had long-standing policies against the surgeries.
Most recently, the representative body for veterinary surgeons in Ireland, has called for the introduction of legislation banning the practice of “tail docking” of puppies.
It has said there are reports puppies and breeding bitches are being brought to Ireland from Britain – where it has been illegal since 2007 — so docking can take place.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 2nd, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: akc, american kennel club, american veterinary medical association, avma, breed standards, breeds, cosmetic, crop, cropping, doberman, doberman pinscher, dobermann, dock, docking, dogs, ear, ears, health, purebred, surgery, tail, tails